KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In today’s world, many women want it all. They want a career. They want a family. They want to summon their inner superhero and deploy their powers to accomplish it all.
Mothers are the sole or primary breadwinner in 40 percent of households across the United States, according to the Department of Labor. Compare that to just 11 percent back in 1960.
This record-setting trend is now testing the work-life balance more than ever before. 41 Action News Anchor Rhiannon Alley sat down with moms of all backgrounds when researching her new children's book, "Mommy, Please Don't Go to Work!", to learn about their experiences and how they manage their career alongside their parenting responsibilities.
“The dreaded words that no working mom wants to hear! Finally, a book to help our children understand why we leave for work, and why we love coming home,” said Dr. Natasha L. Burgert, MD, a board-certified pediatrician and national spokeswomen for the Academy of Pediatrics.
Denise Berger is the vice president of physician recruitment at HCA/CareNow and a mom of an 18-year-old daughter, who just started her freshman year of college in Tennessee.
"I question everything. Did I do this right? Did I do that right?" said Berger.
Christina Medina, the director of public relations at Center School District and a mom to two, chimed in with her experience.
"That's why it's great to have girlfriends you can talk to and say, 'Is this normal? Is this ok?'" said Medina.
All moms face challenges and so-called "mommy-guilt." Whether they stay at home, work from home, or work part-time. A recent Pew Research study revealed 8 out of 10 adults agree mothers feel the most pressure to be an involved parent.
In fact, Pew Research said mothers are the primary breadwinners in four out of 10 U.S. families. In nearly half (46 percent) of households with two parents, both parents are employed full time, up from 31 percent in 1970.
41 Action News Anchor Dia Wall is the mom of nine-month-old Alina. She admits, "You gotta be OK with everything not being OK but it's hard. It's so hard."
Often something gives. Dishes aren’t done. Laundry isn’t cleaned. Food isn’t always prepped perfectly. And that’s OK. Especially, when you’re mixing in a return to work.
Brooke Shackelford, a legal analyst with the Social Security Administration, is the mother to a newborn baby boy. She’s already planning for her return to work in a few weeks.
"Well, I haven't found childcare. That's really what it is and it's a trust issue. Who is going to take care of him like I do?" said Shackelford.
“Childcare was a big one for me too,” Wall added. “It’s no secret in 2018—not everyone has a 9-to-5 or a Monday through Friday type of gig.”
There appears to be a movement in motion. Prominent women in high profile positions are now speaking out about their own struggles balancing kids and careers.
“I think there's a lot of people who are being more real, more open, more honest about it. It was probably 10-15 years ago that people started talking about postpartum depression. That wasn't even part of the conversation before,” said Christina Medina.
Beyoncé just penned an article in Vogue that revealed her feelings about facing pressures after giving birth. Serena Williams posted about her struggles on Instagram balancing being a mom and having a career.
Last week was not easy for me. Not only was I accepting some tough personal stuff, but I just was in a funk. Mostly, I felt like I was not a good mom. I read several articles that said postpartum emotions can last up to 3 years if not dealt with. I like communication best. Talking things through with my mom, my sisters, my friends let me know that my feelings are totally normal. It’s totally normal to feel like I’m not doing enough for my baby. We have all been there. I work a lot, I train, and I’m trying to be the best athlete I can be. However, that means although I have been with her every day of her life, I’m not around as much as I would like to be. Most of you moms deal with the same thing. Whether stay-at-home or working, finding that balance with kids is a true art. You are the true heroes. I’m here to say: if you are having a rough day or week--it’s ok--I am, too!!! There’s always tomm!
“Think about how many nannies, housekeepers. She has all the help in the world but no one can be mom but you. No one can be mom to your child but you,” said Dia Wall.
Sloane Heller, the founder of Sloane Heller Communications and mom of two, said it’s time for women to think about not only their family, career, and relationships, but themselves as well.
“I think for so long women are built to give, give and give some more. We have to get to ourselves in order to be that patient or that kind of mom you want to be even if its 15 minutes," said Heller.
Brooke Shackleford hasn’t found that balance yet, but she’s working on it.
“You’re trying to make sure you stay pretty and everything’s normal," said Shackleford. "You even look good and you don’t look like you’ve lost your mind, even though you felt like it.”
Anchor Rhiannon Ally is the mother of two kids and has a baby on the way. She also wrote a book, called “Mommy, Please Don’t Go to Work!” for young kids who struggle with mom leaving the house for work. There is an event 6:30 p.m. August 29 at the Plaza Branch of the KCMO Public Library to talk more about the struggles working moms face. The event is open to the public but space is limited, so please RSVP.